In the name of ‘balance,’ Oregon continues to chase large road-widening projects without evidence that these actually reduce congestion for drivers while underinvesting in the safety of people not driving.
As previously reported, BEST has been working with transportation leaders across the state to urge the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) to invest more of the flexible portion of Oregon’s share of federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funding in active transportation, slowing climate change, and local transportation needs
Public comment the OTC received over the last three months asked them to put this one-time federal money toward projects that make it safe and practical for people to bike, walk, and take transit—making it safer for both pedestrians and drivers—to get around their communities. Community members and elected officials from all over the state called for investments in safety and access that their communities need in order to thrive.
ODOT’s Strategic Action Plan calls for actions in 2022 to “Apply GHG emission standards in making ODOT investment decisions” and “Adjust investment programs to invest in lower emission projects (e.g. bike, walk, transit).”
Today, the OTC decided how to spend the $412 million in flexible funds.
Their decision does not deliver on the Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) stated goals or respond to the overwhelming public demand for smarter transportation investment.
The decision does recognize a need for greater investment in public and active transportation—for example, sending more money to Safe Routes to School, a grant program that currently can only fund barely a quarter of the community projects that apply.
However, the scenario does not go far enough to fill deep community needs. It also still
allocates $50 million dollars to the “enhance highways” category of spending, underlining the
missed chance for OTC to use these one-time federal funds to make ground on sorely needed
climate-forward community investments.
According to BEST executive director Rob Zako, “In the name of ‘balance,’ Oregon continues to chase large road-widening projects without evidence that these actually reduce congestion for drivers while underinvesting in the safety of people not driving.”
- MEETING (OTC, 3/30/22)
- Oregon Transportation Commission Prioritizes Main Streets, Accessibility, Repair, and Air Quality in Decision on Allocating Federal Infrastructure Dollars (ODOT, 3/30/22)
- Transportation Commission makes final decision on $412 million in federal funds (BikePortland, 3/30/22)
- Majority of $412 million in Oregon’s federal infrastructure funding will go to road maintenance, safety upgrades (Oregonian, 3/31/22)
- Oregon Commission Unveils Plan for $412 Million in Federal Transportation Dollars (Portland Mercury, 3/31/22)
- Oregon Transportation Commission will spend $412 million on highway repairs, pedestrian safety (Oregon Capital Chronicle, 4/1/22)
- Oregon sees big bump in federal transit funding (BikePortland, 4/7/22)